Ballerinas shine at top U.S. meet

Kyodo

Japanese ballerinas Shiori Kase and Tamako Miyazaki grabbed the top two prizes Friday in the senior female division of the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.

Kase, 22, who lives in England, said by telephone that she was thrilled to win the gold medal and proud to represent her country at the 2-week event, which drew 109 competitors from 21 countries.

“I am surprised myself and don’t feel like it’s real but can sum it up in one word — happy,” the Tokyo dancer said. “I feel it was worth all the effort I’ve put in.”

Miyazaki, 25, also from Tokyo but living in Washington, D.C., was pleased to share the silver medal and said she felt inspired to push herself even further.

“I shouldn’t be content with this,” she said. “I hope to continue practicing every day so that I can be a dancer who can make the audience happy,” she said.

Kota Fujishima and Mizuho Nagata made the finals in the senior male and junior female divisions, which were won mostly by Korean and American dancers.

At the 2010 USA IBC, four Japanese won a silver and two bronzes in the senior division, and a silver in the junior division. In this year’s event, 48 dancers were juniors, aged 15 to 18, and 61 were seniors, ranging from 19 to 26.

Japan had 18 dancers, the second-largest group after the U.S., in the globally recognized event, which is held in Mississippi every four years.